Everyone Needs to Stop Over Glorifying the Startup Scene

startup canada awards.jpg

October on the Outside:

Wear Your Label announced being 1 of 6 companies accepted to the Joe Fresh Centre for Innovation in Toronto. We were 1 of 5 designers to show at Startup Fashion Week, we won the Startup Canada Award for Sustainable Development in Atlantic Canada, we went on a speaking tour. And we even racked in a nomination for the Fredericton Chamber's Business Excellence Awards

October / the Reality :

Yes the industry can be "glamorous"; photo ops, travels, press releases, fashion shows and awards nights are all things I would have DREAMED about in high school. *cue a flashback to teenage me in small-town Olds Alberta*

But here's the reality: it's a lot harder than it looks. I mean, outside-looking-in, things always seem bigger, grander, and more impressive than what they really are. Social media doesn't tell the whole story. It’s a small, glorified snippet of the good stuff. We share what we want people to see: the inspiring, the exciting, the fun. Insta-celeb, Essena O'Neill, recently brought this to light when she took to social media to share the reality behind her "perfect" shots. 

And in a way, this superficial social hype is super synonymous in the startup scene. In fact, I’d argue that between the fashion and startup worlds, we’re right smack dab in the middle of the most over glamorized and overrated industries. But nobody pays attention to what happens behind the scenes; or maybe nobody cares. The reality is, everybody needs to stop over glorifying the startup scene. 

Everybody needs to stop over glorifying the startup scene.

The headlines, events, and awards are NOT a real representation of the work that happens every single day. The behind-the-scenes stuff. The work that nobody talks about, or cares to highlight. And even when we do talk about it, it's somehow still glorified to be exciting and cool.

Hint: We don't usually sit on fluffy rugs in heels and perfect lighting to package orders.

Hint: We don't usually sit on fluffy rugs in heels and perfect lighting to package orders.

Late nights spent packaging orders, hours going through customer service e-mails, weeks drafting new designs (most of which will never make it to market). From the outside looking in, all of these things just seem to “happen”. Of course orders will get shipped out, and e-mails will get answered, and new products will be created - that’s what a company does. Except, when you’re building a startup you ARE the company. Two people. Doing everything. (Oh, and you’re not going to pay yourself for the first year.) 

Success is celebrated. Hustle isn’t.

Here's the thing: People say they celebrate hustle, but only because it's a buzz word. Success and hustle are two different things. Success is reaching milestones, hitting targets... It's subjective, but usually hinged on the external glamour; the awards, the runway shows, the international headlines. 

Hustle is what happens internally to get there. The 12 hour days, the tedious tasks, the number crunching. As "sexy" as the hustle is, no one really talks about what it looks like. Hint: it’s not sexy. It’s gruelling. 

There’s no such thing as an overnight success.

So many people reached out to us, after "The Buzzfeed Era" and congratulated us as if we became successful overnight. Listen, good things can happen. Opportunities can present themselves. And in many cases - even ours - it can seem like everything goes from 0 to 100 overnight. Yes, people get lucky. But it’s so much more a combination of good ideas, hard work, and the right team, time and place. 

Anybody can be given good cards and play them well. And some will call that success. But what really makes a startup successful is being dealt shitty cards, over and over, and still finding a way to play them. 

I guess through it all, and at the end of the day, I've found that the startupscene is pretty much like high school.

The startup scene is pretty much like high school.  

Being popular is overrated. A lot of people are faking it, and no one really knows what they’re doing. All the parties and events everyone goes to are over glorified, and don’t matter in the real world. If you're the new kid on the block, your social life is probably going to suffer. And sure, you might be a lame for spending nights in, working, drafting, doing. But that’s real hustle. And my money’s on you. 

/ end rant 

- K.

Kayley Reed1 Comment